This is not a ‘Bajaj’ Chetak. It’s just a Chetak because Bajaj believes that the Chetak has a stronger brand recall and there’s a lot of emotions attached to it. However, this new Chetak is electric. And, it is smart. It is premium. It has a lot of features that makes it quite aspirational. But, there’s one thing that it doesn’t have – an exhaust sound and that’s going to make a lot of people intrigued considering the ‘Hamara Bajaj’ days. And Bajaj wants just that.
This Bajaj costs Rs 1.15 lakhs (ex-showroom Pune) and is available in two variants and five colours. It goes up against the recently launched TVS iQube and the more modern Ather 450. But should you be spending over a lakh rupees on an electric scooter made by Bajaj? Well, we are here to help you!
Let’s start with the heart of the Chetak. The 3.8kW continuous electric motor and the IP67-rated lithium-ion battery are made by Bosch and imported from Germany. IP67 means the scooter can be under one-meter of water for about 30mins. This rating also means there’s no way dust will enter the powertrain. Bajaj claims a maximum riding distance of 95kms in Eco mode. The top speed is limited to 70kmph and a full charge takes five hours.
Talking about charging, the Chetak has a built-in charger which is located just under the seat. The charging cable is neatly tucked inside the front storage compartment, which can be opened using a beautifully crafted switchgear. This charger can be plugged at any 5-ampere power outlet. But, there’s no fast charging available as of now.
The Chetak is built around a steel frame and benefits from a metal body. Bajaj has given it 12-inch neatly-cut alloy wheels that run tubeless tyres. There’s a single-sided front suspension and a monoshock at the rear. In terms of braking, there’s a disc brake at the front and a drum at the rear. There’s regenerative braking system available as well. Just like most of the other Bajaj bikes, the Chetak is also equipped with backlight switches.
There’s a host of it. The most alluring feature of the Chetak is the round instrument cluster. It’s full LCD and gets a black and white theme. The fonts, the overall layout and the way icons move feel really good to look at. The sequential LED indicators are a classy touch. The headlamp is all LED. There’s a LED DRL as well which has been neatly integrated on the assembly.
The front storage compartment has something called soft-open feature. That means the compartment cover doesn’t just drop down in a jiffy. Rather, it comes down slowly. The seat too, when opened, doesn’t drop down like seen in other scooters. In Chetak, there’s a lock mechanism and the only way to shut it is by using your hand all the way till it is shut.
The Chetak gets smartphone connectivity as well. Using the mobile application, you will be able to track the riding habits, along with GPS navigation and some features that will help you locate the scooter in a crowded location. In case, you don’t plan to do that, you can simply press the button on the key fob, and a sound and blinkers will tell you the exact location of the scooter.
The Chetak electric aka e-Chetak rides like any other petrol-powered scooter. The seating ergonomics are comfortable and upright. There’s tonnes of space to keep your legs (and some luggage) on the floorboard. The seat is large enough to accommodate two full-size adults. Plus, there are enough storage spaces to hold the half-face helmet along with a few other small things. The ride quality too, is comfortable and a bit plush. The scooter is well balanced and it’s easy to filter through traffic. Plus, there’s a reverse mode that helps you take the scooter out of tight spaces, without much effort. So if the e-Chetak behaves like a normal scooter, then why is everyone going ga-ga over it? Well, you get the answer when you twist that accelerator.
The surge of torque with no sound around feels a bit weird at first. But once you get used to it, there’s a new world waiting for you. The eco mode is where things are a bit calm, slow and also the most efficient. Here, you need to use a bit more throttle than you would need, at least initially at traffic signals. Once in motion, the Chetak behaves well, and can be seen overtaking most of the two-wheelers around.
There’s a sport mode as well, which makes it faster and exciting. You have to use the sport mode when climbing a flyover as the gradient and the weight of the rider slows things down when in eco model. Interestingly, there’s a drive mode in Chetak. Here, the Chetak keeps toggling between eco and sport, depending on the throttle response. This is a pretty good feature, but every time the scooter switches to a different mode, there’s a sound beep that irritates you after some point. The brakes work fine. The power isn’t sharp as we would have liked but does the job of stopping the scooter quite well.
The Chetak is an interesting product. It looks really good. Has the oomph to turn heads. Plus, the performance is pretty good for city use. With a range of 95kms, it makes for a perfect city commuter. And the features that the Chetak comes with are practical and easy to use. So our first impressions are quite positive. We would want to dig in a bit deeper but that will happen when Bajaj gives us the scooter for more than just a few hours.
Photography by Kapil Angane